Tuesday 22 October 2013

Healthy Snacking With Smart Eats and.....Strawberry and Lemon Chai Muffins

Trying to select healthy snacks for my growing teens, which would also in turn meet the approval of their taste buds, has been a challenge for me for quite some time. When hunger strikes, mostly during the 'in-between' meal times, their favorite choice is to reach out for a piece of cake or some savory snack,  which obviously, as a mother does not leave me too thrilled. 
A few days back, a post on facebook caught my attention, where Sangeeta Khanna, a blogger friend had a few sample boxes of Smarteats up for review. Sangeeta also happens to be the advisory nutritionist for Smarteats and has developed quite a few snacks for them. Sangeeta has a research background in microbial biotechnology and is a nutrition consultant and trainer who develops nutritious recipes and also works on personalized diet plans for people with specific health conditions. You can read up more about her healthy recipes on her blog Healthfood desivideshi. Knowing she was on their nutrition team, further assured me that whatever will be delivered at my doorsteps would be 100% genuine and healthy as professed. 
I further explored their website and was happy to read that according to them the "snacks had no artificial flavor/fragrance or coloring, no preservatives, no transfat, low added sugar, and balanced calories". Perfect!! Exactly what I was looking for.
The box arrived with a sampler of five snacks which were neatly packed, some of them in reusable vaccum sealed packets. Apart from its neat packaging what I really liked was that behind each packet the nutritional information of each snack was printed. This is a big help for those who are watching their calories.
As the snacks were meant to encourage healthy snacking in my kids, I asked them to taste the snacks and share their opinions on what they thought about each one of them. 
The first packet we opened was the Fruity Granola Bar which came in a packed 100 gms packet. The Granola bar had a combination of various dried fruits like apples, peaches and grapes as part of its ingredients. It also consisted of oats, almonds and coconut powder to lend it a powerful punch of vitamins and minerals. 
While my daughter wasn't very happy as she found a strong coconutty after taste and my son found it so-so and graded it 3 out of 5, but this snack really worked for me. I loved the soft and chewy texture and found the crunchy bites of the mixed fruits really filling and satisfying. I think it makes a great munch snack to keep those in between hunger pangs at bay.
The second snack we tasted were the Parsely Pepper Crackers. Made mainly with wholewheat, parsely and pepper this was my daughters favorite  While my son wasn't too keen on them, I found the taste good but a bit on the drier side - maybe that is because of the wholewheat. I think they would make a great healthy snack served with a nice cottage cheese or a yogurt dip.
Next on list was the whole wheat Walnut Brownie Biscotti. Soft and crumbly it was delicious with the perfect combination of chocolates and walnuts to satisfy your chocolate cravings. I found it perfect to have with your tea, coffee or with a cup of milk.
 Undoubtedly, it got a big thumbs up from all of us. 
The Tangy Sweet Roasted Mixture was roasted and a healthy mix of chana(gram),  peas and sugar coated puffed rice. We all liked it except for the fact that it had a slight sweet taste to it. I prefer my mixtures to be a little spicy and chatpata but for those of you who don't mind a little tango of sweet and salt, go for it.
Saved the best for the last - Very berry Strawberry.  These were dried pieces of candied fruits bursting with tangy strawberry flavor. We all loved it, especially my son who just could not stop popping them one after another. 
After tasting them, I immediately thought of baking strawberry muffins with them (recipe down below). Searching their site, I was happy to find more candied fruit in exciting flavors like peach, pineapple, plums, apricots,mango, orange grapes and amla. Christmas just around the corner, these would be just perfect to add to your cakes and desserts. 
A big thumbs up again from all us.
On the whole the snacks were hugely satisfying and would make a great option for a quick healthy snack and that too delivered right at your doorstep. The great thing is that not only is there is a vast selection to choose from but you can also give them special instruction as per your requirements. Now that you have seen how healthy can be tasty too, go ahead and order yourself a box full of healthy goodness.
For further information you can read the Smarteats website.

Munching on the yummy dried strawberries, I decided to try making muffins with them. To balance the sweet flavor of the strawberries, I thought of adding some reduced lemon tea to the mixture. Pardon my adding the butter, (I am usually good and bake my cakes with canola oil) which deviates from my above post of healthy snacking but it was just a temptation I could not resist. The end result were soft, moist, buttery-flavored, delicious muffins with little bites of chewy strawberries. They were so so good - maybe the best I have tried out so far!!
Here's the recipe:
150 gms flour
2 tsp baking powder
100 gms sugar
1/4 cup reduced lemon flavored tea 
100 gms butter
3 eggs
100 gms dried strawberries, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 180 C.
For the Lemon chai- boil half a cup of water, put in one lemon flavored teabag and reduce till the water in the pan is halved. Keep aside.
Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla essence with an electric mixture for  7-8 minutes until well combined.
Slowly beat in the eggs one at a time
Sieve together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Add the dry ingredients slowly to the creamed mixture along with the reduced lemon tea mixture and lemon juice.
Fold in the chopped strawberries.
Spoon the muffin mixtures into prepared muffin tins, filling each to just over the half way mark.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 - 25 minutes or until well risen and golden brown.
Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pans.

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